I believe I’ve written about gratitude before, but it’s a concept that should always be in our awareness on a daily basis. Yesterday, I carried out a volunteer shift at Glide Foundation where I served lunch to those less fortunate. I had already signed up to do so about a week ago, however after a weekend of indulgence (read bubbles, bottle service, and Bret Michaels) I thought this might do me a bit of good. Looking back though, I admit – it’s not about me. I didn’t do this for this for the selfish act of feeling good about myself. Yes, you do achieve that high of helping others, but to those in that dining room it’s just another day in the life.
Check out a video I made here.
Yesterday was Burger Day at Glide. Here in San Francisco and beyond we have such an obsession with burgers. I’m guilty of it: KronnerBurger? I still can’t believe I have not been given my obsession with Chris Kronner’s hands resulting from the oodles of publicity and that bloody, bone marrow topped burger. Umami Burger – can you say truffle burger or bacon-wrapped scallop? Oh and who can forget the Most Expensive Burger made with Japanese Waygu beef, 10-herb white truffle butter, smoked Pacific sea salt, 18-month cheddar, shaved black truffles, a quail egg, and a white truffle-buttered roll.
Yet in the dining room at Glide, lunchgoers weren’t being asked if they would like roquefort, swiss, or gruyere cheese to top their burger. Add an egg for $1.50? Nope. Their cheese consisted of an orange substance with a gooey yet chunky consistency that most patrons scraped off.
Aioli wasn’t the spread of choice, Dijon mustard was not available, and chef was fresh out of housemade ketchup. Instead, guests were only given 1 packet of ketchup and 1 packet of mustard. We weren’t allowed to give them additional packets. In fact, we couldn’t give them any bags to take food, they had to use their own. How many times have you taken it for granted when asked by the server if you would like the remainder of dinner packed up in a biodegradable container for your to take home to enjoy later?
Sparkling or still water? If you dine at Glide on a regular basis, you have one choice: still water, from a garden hose, scooped out of a garbage bucket.
If you walk around the city on a daily basis, and have these homeless or less fortunate people ask you for spare change, you might be like me and simply ignore them. Fail to treat them like human beings. But they are just like us. They need fuel to carry on with their day. They are just trying to survive. Having their chair pulled out is a luxury. As is being called “sir.” Told to “have a nice day.” Or simply a “thank you.” When was the last time you expanded your world in that way?
Yesterday I felt like my heart expanded and grew with empathy. Yes, I will probably will go back to indulging in some way, but I will also remember my experiences and how these people are actual human beings too. Now I’ve volunteered at the San Francisco Food Bank, but I’ve never seen the look in people’s faces when they are actually being satiated by the food they are receiving. This is on a completely different level than packing a box with cereal and being disconnected to the task at hand.
I said Grace with a gentleman yesterday as he sat down to enjoy his burger. He followed by saying the word “gratitude” to me. He reminded me to be grateful. I thought about that a lot yesterday and I continue to today…and I will continue to think about what I am grateful for the next day and the next. I encourage you to too. Because where ever you are in life, it’s important to be thankful. Remember that we are all blessed with the gift of life.
For more information on how to volunteer to serve a meal, click here.